Kool and the Gang - Classic or Dud?

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Much more of a Commodores fan, myself, but the Gang probably deserve their funk credits. I'm not sure what to think about their 80's stuff. It's definitely not as cool as the jungle-boogie stuff but still fun to dance to when the 80's cover band pulls it out.

My name is Kenny (My name is Kenny), Friday, 31 October 2003 21:32 (twenty years ago) link

Was it K & the G who did "She's Fresh"? It seemed like such a desperate attempt to hop on the hip hop slang bandwagon, but JT crooning "fresh as a summer breeze" sort've unintentinally diluting the effect.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Friday, 31 October 2003 22:05 (twenty years ago) link

Their "virgin emergency" song wasn't as good as Foreigner's. Still OK tho

dave q, Friday, 31 October 2003 22:08 (twenty years ago) link

All-time classic, and that "Fresh" song (which was a grab-the-historical-moment attempt to cash in on then-new jargon) has sounds in it that I'd use to explain to a lifelong teetotaller what cocaine feels like.

J0hn Darn1elle (J0hn Darn1elle), Friday, 31 October 2003 23:44 (twenty years ago) link

You can't beat the 70s stuff, so indisputably classic for the following reasons:

1) appearing on Lightning Rod's "Hustler's Convention"
2) "Jungle Jazz" w/ the flute solo. Kills the later discofied track too.
3) "Who's Gonna Take the Weight?"

But when JT showed up it was all over, apart from "Celebration". For an insight into how far they fell, in the 80s my dad was a security guard at Disneyland for a few summers and he would come home with stories about watching Kool and the Gang play at the Carnation Pavilion, y'know, over by where they put Captain Eo. Sad shit.

Shakey Mo Collier, Friday, 31 October 2003 23:52 (twenty years ago) link

I'd have hoped classic, based on the group's seventies output, but I saw them in Ottawa this summer (with several new, younger members), and they were awful. like, horrendously leopard-print awful.

Sean M (Sean M), Saturday, 1 November 2003 00:18 (twenty years ago) link

Classic for "Let The Music Take Your Mind" alone

Mister Snrub (MisterSnrub), Saturday, 1 November 2003 01:13 (twenty years ago) link

Classic for Take My Heart alone.

Classic for Summer Madness alone. Either version -- live or studio -- sends me every time.

Andy K (Andy K), Saturday, 1 November 2003 01:15 (twenty years ago) link

Given their '70s singles, they had more right to jump on the hip hop bandwagon than just about any hip-hoppers did. Their best '80s single, though, was "Misled," which SOUNDS like Foreigner (at least as much if not more than "Easy Lover" by Phil Collins and Philip Bailey or "Dead Giveaway" by Shalamar does.) Second best '80s single probably "Get Down On It," then "Let's Go Dancin' (Reggae Dancin')" or whatever it was called, then "Too Hot" I guess (which is probably better than Coolio's later safe-sex-themed cover version). Best video: "Joanna," about a fat waitress in a greasy spoon place, and MAYBE even better than Poison's similar "I Want Action" (I think) vid.

chuck, Saturday, 1 November 2003 01:27 (twenty years ago) link

Their best '80s single, though, was "Misled,"

Remember the video for this? Ended with "Hey, what happened?" "Man, I was misled." So sad.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 1 November 2003 01:29 (twenty years ago) link

They're on the corporate-event circuit now -- they played our company's sales meeting two years ago.

Jeff Wright, Saturday, 1 November 2003 04:11 (twenty years ago) link

Their "Wichita Lineman" cover is certainly a dud.

Colin Beckett (Colin Beckett), Saturday, 1 November 2003 07:35 (twenty years ago) link

These Animal Men's cover of "Witchita Lineman," conversely, was surprisingly ace!

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Saturday, 1 November 2003 07:37 (twenty years ago) link

I somehow missed that one while making my "Wichita Lineman" mix.


Colin Beckett (Colin Beckett), Saturday, 1 November 2003 07:38 (twenty years ago) link

It was on some compilation a few years back. Everything else the band did was utter, utter crapola, but it was an interestinlgy languid rendition. Seek it out.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Saturday, 1 November 2003 07:45 (twenty years ago) link

Classic.. "Ladies Night" is such an amazing song, especially the key changes during the more upbeat part. pretty much the foundation sample of disco house. earlier stuff is the shit. I even like "Open Sesame" from SNF. They lost me with "Cherish" though. not a bad song, but they kinda became like every other R&b ballad band at that point.

donut bitch (donut), Saturday, 1 November 2003 10:56 (twenty years ago) link

Hollywood Swinging = very classic

Their self-titled album is top-notch. They are SO classic.

Debito (Debito), Saturday, 1 November 2003 17:46 (twenty years ago) link

Kool and the Gang get props for having a song entitled "Kool and the Gang". But that's not as deep as Bohannon recording a half-a-dozen albums in which the only lyrics are some stoned guy shouting "Bo-han-non! Bo-han-non! Bo-han-non!"

Chuck, I don't hear Foreigner in "Easy Lover" at all. Is it the gospel connection? The chords in "Midnight Blue" sort of sound like Coltrane to me, though.

mopepope (musicmope), Sunday, 2 November 2003 16:45 (twenty years ago) link

Some of their later stuff was quite cool.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Monday, 3 November 2003 12:46 (twenty years ago) link

(later, as in "Ladies Night" onwards)

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Monday, 3 November 2003 12:47 (twenty years ago) link

Pretty much everything up to about '73 or '74 is good; about as good as the JBs.

dleone (dleone), Monday, 3 November 2003 12:59 (twenty years ago) link

>>Chuck, I don't hear Foreigner in "Easy Lover" at all. Is it the gospel connection?<<

No, no, no -- it's all in the guitar riff! and maybe the vocals.

chuck, Monday, 3 November 2003 15:15 (twenty years ago) link

Now that I ponder it: the keyboards in "Cold as Ice" vs. Phil Collins harmonies on "Easy Lover" -- natch.


Stan Lee

mopepope (musicmope), Tuesday, 4 November 2003 02:13 (twenty years ago) link

Although when you think about it, the sentiments of these two songs oppose one another. At least I think they do as I can't recall the lyrics to "Easy Lover". I assume it is about an easy lover. All of the best Phil Collins lyrics express a fear of female perogative. That's why Patrick Bateman loves him so.

mopepope (musicmope), Tuesday, 4 November 2003 02:19 (twenty years ago) link

OMG... Atomic Kitten have done a cover version of 'Ladies Night', judging by the posters I saw on the street between work and the tube station this evening.

They. Must. Be. Stopped.

James Mitchell (James Mitchell), Tuesday, 4 November 2003 03:54 (twenty years ago) link

This best-of from '75 is dynomite: http://www.worldsoul.com/datas/pics/3137.jpg

Mark (MarkR), Tuesday, 4 November 2003 04:03 (twenty years ago) link

The answer is: Classic for their 70s output alone. And Dwight Yoakam's "Wichita Lineman" rules, for the record.

Phantroll, Tuesday, 4 November 2003 05:45 (twenty years ago) link

They always leave the Meters' version off of "Witchita Lineman" off of Charly bootlegs. Must be a reason.

mopepope (musicmope), Tuesday, 4 November 2003 10:49 (twenty years ago) link

Funk doesn't get much more frighteningly, tar-pitty dark ('n' lovely) than "Funky Stuff." I said who-who-who-who-who-who-who-who-who-who-woyeah!

Also, apart from EW&F, they were the funk act that did disco the best, with both "Open Sesame" and "Ladies' Night" being shining examples. donut bitch is so OTM about the key changes in "Ladies." Most songs will give you one climactic shift, but "Ladies" gives you two and they're both gorgeous!

Eric H. (Eric H.), Friday, 7 November 2003 08:14 (twenty years ago) link

five years pass...

I cant believe I never posted on this but shakey is OTM

groove to this everyone

Pfunkboy Formerly Known As... (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 11 December 2008 16:26 (fourteen years ago) link

Light of Worlds is a great album. It has the anti-heroin "Rhyme Time People" and the pro-fruit "Fruit Man."

If Timi Yuro would be still alive, most other singers could shut up, Friday, 12 December 2008 02:25 (fourteen years ago) link

Their 69 debut album and Music is the Message are both untouchable.

Storm the Studio Line from Loreal (PappaWheelie V), Friday, 12 December 2008 02:47 (fourteen years ago) link

I adore "Misled."

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Friday, 12 December 2008 02:58 (fourteen years ago) link


Pfunkboy Formerly Known As... (Herman G. Neuname), Friday, 12 December 2008 13:34 (fourteen years ago) link

Once pronounced by Bruno Brookes on Radio 1 as "My-sold."

Brother Belcher (Marcello Carlin), Friday, 12 December 2008 13:36 (fourteen years ago) link

one year passes...

did these guys have the best videos or what?

I can't get over this "Joanna" video, so fantastic


Stormy Davis, Sunday, 15 August 2010 04:17 (thirteen years ago) link



Stormy Davis, Sunday, 15 August 2010 04:20 (thirteen years ago) link

I know jack shit about album tracks, but the singles were pretty undeniably classic. especially "Too Hot" and "Celebration".

plate of dinosaurs (San Te), Sunday, 15 August 2010 04:21 (thirteen years ago) link

oh yeah, those two songs totally rule the universe

you can totally divide this band into 70s and 80s hits, kinda like Genesis or something

Stormy Davis, Sunday, 15 August 2010 04:28 (thirteen years ago) link

known the song forever, but just realized tonite that this was them --


Stormy Davis, Sunday, 15 August 2010 04:31 (thirteen years ago) link

(this would be the "80s" period... which, I gotta say, not sure I like any less than their 70s period at this point!)

Stormy Davis, Sunday, 15 August 2010 04:32 (thirteen years ago) link

I actually just recently got a collection of Kool & the Gang's early to mid 70s stuff called "The Funk Collection" and it slays. I knew a couple of the singles like "Hollywood Swinging" and of course "Jungle Boogie", but the whole disc is over the top groovy and I highly recommend the disc.

earlnash, Sunday, 15 August 2010 04:39 (thirteen years ago) link

yeah the 70s stuff is simply the best, untouchable ... but i'm loving their 80s era tonight for some reason

Stormy Davis, Sunday, 15 August 2010 04:56 (thirteen years ago) link

"Hollywood Swinging", "Jungle Boogie", sure .. but I guess you had some "oh yeah!" moments when you heard, "Funky Stuff", "Summer Madness" etc, eh earl?

Stormy Davis, Sunday, 15 August 2010 04:57 (thirteen years ago) link

"Too Hot" is genius. Unforgettable.

i like barbecue ribs (u s steel), Sunday, 15 August 2010 07:49 (thirteen years ago) link

Kool and the Gang is definitely the most JBs sounding of those 70s funk groups, mostly because of the horn arrangements. I think I had heard "Funky Stuff" but never put it together with being a Kool and the Gang tune.

How deep is that early Kool & the Gang catalog, is this kind of the cream of of the funk or does it run pretty thick on their early LPs? I figure there are probably some ballads on each of the albums, as all of those bands did some smooth stuff usually along side the jams.

This is the track listing from "The Funk Collection"

1. Kool And The Gang
2. Hollywood Swinging
3. Funky Stuff
4. Whos Gonna Take The Weight (Pts 1 And 2)
5. Rhyme Time People
6. Electric Frog (Part 1)
7. Raw Hamburger
8. Spirit Of The Boogie
9. Sunshine And Love
10. Open Sesame
11. Kool It (Here Comes The Fuzz)
12. The Penguin
13. Cosmic Energy
14. Summer Madness
15. Winter Sadness
16. Jungle Boogie

earlnash, Monday, 16 August 2010 01:00 (thirteen years ago) link

six years pass...

Binging on these tonight and they were amazing. If any band has a better 6 singles than Fresh, Too Hot, Get Down On It, Misled, Steppin Out and Cherish then I don't know them, and that's ignoring the biggest ones. No other reason to revive the thread than to say that but also check out those two videos above because they'll enrich your life

i know kore-eda (or something), Friday, 26 May 2017 22:05 (six years ago) link

Hang on, summer madness too. That beats all. Fuck they were good

i know kore-eda (or something), Friday, 26 May 2017 22:06 (six years ago) link

one year passes...

Celebration sparks joy, even just thinking of it

anvil, Thursday, 21 February 2019 08:59 (four years ago) link

two years pass...

Really overdue for a boxset

licorice in the front, pizza in the rear (Whiney G. Weingarten), Tuesday, 7 December 2021 21:36 (two years ago) link

sickest band

kurt schwitterz, Tuesday, 7 December 2021 21:43 (two years ago) link

Super classic, definitely a contender for most underrated band. The hits alone ...

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 7 December 2021 22:51 (two years ago) link

eleven months pass...

one of those absolutely monster bands which is known for just a few songs but just has an amazing and deep catalog. Like their contemporaries War, except they had a longer run of classic singles. All the talk about them turning into a lightweight band ignores the fact they were so good at both the hard funk and the breezy shit. Celebration might be overplayed but I’ve grown to love it (when before I was sick of it.) I just had to take time to recognize just how much better they were than I already thought. I don’t doubt their recent incarnations aren’t any good, but they were so sick for such a long time.

omar little, Friday, 25 November 2022 23:17 (one year ago) link

otm. i grew up with it, so i don't mind the 80s stuff too much; certainly don't seek it out though. 70s stuff is alltime. and yeah- they were definitely a tight group with tons of chops. war feels like a good comparison in the sense that they have some absolutely gargantuan classic singles but no truly canon-acknowledged "classic album." the listmania of recent music journalism hasn't forgotten them entirely, but their status as a "greatest hits=good enough" corporate legacy band is kind of unfortunate and a disservice to their previous material imo.

(a quick peek at spotify and their top five is all 80s pop stuff, collectively approaching half a billion streams)

my jam:


Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 26 November 2022 00:17 (one year ago) link

seven months pass...

Who's Gonna Take the Weight is just monumental

Tracer Hand, Friday, 7 July 2023 22:56 (five months ago) link

four months pass...

Word going around that George "Funky" Brown has passed.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 17 November 2023 21:07 (three weeks ago) link

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